Do you ever feel like you’re putting on a forced or phony persona? Do you avoid certain situations because they demand a quality of interaction that feels inauthentic to you?

Today, we’re going to be discussing the limitations we put on our own personalities, how that mindset is holding you back from reaching your full potential, and how you can effectively set yourself free.

This is a topic that I was discussing recently with one of my groups in which a particular client had been having trouble in his dating life for years. His issue was that he already knew he was being too much of a nice guy (he even referenced my book, Not Nice). Through his research, he’d also come across pick-up artist methodology that advocated teasing women on dates, challenging them, and generally acting more boldly and being less accommodating.

While I don’t always agree with pick-up artistry tactics, they are usually more effective than doing nothing at all. Nevertheless, he felt that these methods were totally false on him and forcing him to create a dating personality that was not consistent with who he was.

My immediate response: “Maybe you don’t really know who you are yet.”

In the broad spectrum of human behavior, we can never confuse who we think we are with who we have the potential to become.

What do I mean by that?

What I mean is that you cannot know if your behavior limitations are a force of habit or your genuine personality unless you give something else a chance to become part of who you are.

In our daily actions, we are limited by habit because of our schedules and structured lives. We wake up at the same time, go through the same morning routine, eat the same foods, drive the same route to work, interact with the same people, etc. In that stream of sameness, when do we really have the opportunity to experience new facets of ourselves?

Not often.

Especially in a context like dating, where we aren’t doing it every day, we must give ourselves the chance to try things out several times before we accept that they are false behaviors.

In the mile-long spectrum of every human behavior possible, we tend to limit our own personality to just a couple inches of that spectrum. The truth, however, is that this limitation is only based on our own perceptions of who we think we are.

What’s really unfortunate about this is that we then take a powerful message, like committing to your most authentic self, and we turn it into an excuse to stay in the tiny piece of the behavioral spectrum that we’ve allotted ourselves.

All of a sudden, this liberating ideology gets distorted into a reinforcement of our unnecessarily limited identity.

Most of the time, we don’t even know we’re doing this to ourselves.

I went through this myself. For years, I wondered why I would go out on dates with women and never hear from them again. The problem was that I was using the things I’d learned as an excuse to avoid pushing my boundaries: pick-up artist methodology told me to be myself, unapologetically, so I nestled into my cozy bubble and played the nice guy, as always.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I hadn’t even begun to experiment with the broader band of human interaction—so how could I possibly know whether that was a part of my authentic self?

The long and short of it: we can know unequivocally who we are in many contexts, and in others, we still may have no clue.

The problem here is that you need to be willing to give these behaviors a chance to settle in.

When you’re new to this, you’re probably used to one specific way of being on dates: you smile non-stop, stay polite, agree with everything she says, and stick to safe topics. Why then, would you be surprised when a behavior that is on the opposite end of the spectrum (challenging her and expressing yourself freely) feels awkward and false at first?

If you were to give this a chance—say at least five dates—it might start to feel more natural, and it will almost certainly feel more freeing.

All you’re doing in this case is expanding your realm of existence on the human behavior spectrum. That doesn’t mean you have to adopt every behavior in between—it just means that you have the ability to take aspects of those behaviors and make them your own.

Here’s another example from my own life:

I used to dress terribly: nothing but baggy pants, thrift store t-shirts, and sneakers. This was around the time that I was struggling with dating and desperately wanting to see a change in that area of my life. So, I decided to enlist the help of one of my female friends to go shopping.

At first, it was terrible—designer jeans and button-down shirts just didn’t feel comfortable to me and didn’t seem like they went with “who I was.” Before long, though, I realized that the people I was meeting had no idea that I’d only just started dressing that way. It was then that I asked myself:

–          Is it possible that my concept of “me” is all in my own head? Am I limiting my own potential?

Shortly after that, everything started to click for me.

It was as though removing that cage of my own perception freed me to become who I was actually meant to be.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that I almost immediately started getting more positive responses from women (and, honestly, everyone else around me).

As I’ve gotten older, my idea of who I am and how I act to support that idea has, of course, evolved—but that’s kind of the point: we never need to feel as though we’re stuck in one small band of human behavior or another.

There is no way you can truly know yourself until you’ve allowed yourself to explore a broad spectrum of human experiences.

You must push your comfort zone if you don’t want to remain stuck in a monotonous holding pattern of experiences. Experiment as widely as possible with your style, communication, physicality, personal expression, tone of voice, and even your overall energy until you find the combination that makes you feel powerful, happy, and satisfied on a daily basis.

This life is possible for you achieve, and to see it flourish, all you need to do is allow for the possibility of a more broadly defined sense of self!

Please take what you’ve learned here, and begin your exploration starting today. How is your predefined sense of self limiting you? How could you stretch this concept to explore new ways of being? Also, please feel free to subscribe so that you can receive notifications about new posts as they’re released.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.


Dr. Aziz